The last year has ravaged the world’s cities. COVID-19 regulations shut down businesses — many to never recover. Low-income workers struggled to find work, and many went without food for days at a time.
Meanwhile, wealthier professionals abandoned cities after realizing they could work from anywhere. And various protests have disrupted what little peace was left.
Yet, despite cities’ failings, missionaries like Kennedy see them as a key part to fulfilling the Great Commission.
A year before COVID-19, over half the world’s population already lived in cities — many drawn by economic opportunities they could never find in the countryside.
“Working in the city … allows us to work with people from all over the world in one place,” says Heath*, a TEAM missionary in Southeast Asia. “Our [learning] center works with students from over ten countries.”
And as immigrants and refugees build new lives in new cities, many are eager to discuss religion, God and the meaning of life. It’s just one of the tremendous opportunities for ministry in the world’s cities.
Will you pray for urban ministries around the world? Pray with us that God will guide missionaries as they plan outreaches and build relationships for His glory.
1. Pray that people will choose church over work and other activities.
Cities are full of opportunities — and distractions.
“Because of financial pressures, people are just too busy to have time for spiritual things,” says Steve Dresselhaus, a TEAM missionary to Mexico. “The urban jungle also makes it much more difficult to engage in quiet, long, stress-free, uninterrupted conversations.”
In Germany, TEAM missionary Jeff Ingram shares, young people struggle to make commitments, afraid that something more exciting will come up.
Pray that unsaved people and new believers will deliberately choose church over other activities. Pray for urban ministries to be seen as attractive to locals. And ask God to put a spiritual hunger in their hearts that can only be satisfied by Him.
2. Pray for urban ministries to create good, spiritual conversations amid unrest.
Many of the world’s cities have seen protests or increased violence in recent years. The addition of COVID-19 and accompanying restrictions have added to a general feeling of unrest and fear.
“[Our] city has grappled with implementing safety and social distancing protocols in a city with over 20 million people,” Heath says. Yet, he adds, “This change has also brought immediate neighbors closer together as our social circles have grown smaller.”
Pray that this closeness will last beyond the pandemic, allowing for deep, spiritual conversations for years to come.
Jeff says, “Pray that atheists and non-religious people would begin asking the key questions of life, such as, ‘Where did I come from? Where am I going? What’s my purpose in life?’ Pray that these seekers would have divine encounters with followers of Jesus who can help them move toward Him.”
3. Ask God to give missionaries rest inside and outside their cities.
The busyness of city life can be both thrilling and exhausting. Traffic is constant. Neighbors complain about the noise from cooped up missionary kids. In parts of eastern Europe, missionaries smell cigarette smoke every time they open their windows. Greenery is in short supply.
“I grew up in the wilds of western Pennsylvania, so I miss losing myself in the fields and forests,” says Selena* a TEAM missionary in western Asia.
Sometimes, missionaries simply need a break from all the city’s hubbub. They need time to recharge and reconnect with God. But getting that break isn’t always easy in the short-term.
Pray that missionaries will find rest, even in the midst of their host cities’ noise. Ask God to also graciously provide opportunities to leave the cities and spend time in His creation.
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